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February 13, 2004

Drop in Minority Applicants at UMich

Self-delusion is an almost universal character trait, and for many people a comfortable state to be in. I'll opine that the prospect of confronting the reality of academic ill-preparedness is the root cause of a 23% drop-off in minority applications at the University of Michigan.

As this article points out:

The 23 percent decline in applications from blacks, Hispanics and American Indians came as the total number of people applying for space in the next freshman class dropped 18 percent, according to figures U-M released Monday.

“Obviously, we’re concerned that the applications from minority students are down more than the population as a whole,” U-M spokeswoman Julie Peterson said. Because the university still hasn’t made most of its decisions about whom it will actually admit, it’s too soon to say whether the change will lead to a less diverse class in the fall, Peterson said

Later in the article, Peterson states, “What students are worried about is, ‘Will I be welcomed and will I be going to a campus where I’m valued?’ ” I don't see why the students wouldn't be welcomed or valued unless they were perceived to have gotten an unfair leg up by admission through lowered standards. The unexamined question is whether the students are self-selecting against UMich because they know, in their heart of hearts, that without Affirmative Action, they won't be admitted, so why confront the prospect of rejection. Instead the students may focus their ambitions on an institution that will admit them through a lowered standard on admission.

Also, unexamined as a cause of this decline in admission is the SES of the students. Perhaps increased fees, reduced aid, and weakened job market are disproportionately affecting minority students.

Another explanation might be sought in the success of other institutions in recruiting minority students and thus reducing the pool for the UMich. If the other institutions make the path towards admission easier, then the student will make the rational risk-minimization choice and avoid confronting their reliance on Affirmative Action.

It would be interesting to see whether the drop-off of applicants at UMich is found at other universities besides Ohio (which also had a court mandated admission policy revision.) Is this occurring at UMich because of the AA court battle or simply as part of a larger trend?

Posted by TangoMan at 05:50 PM